In a world where more new couples are meeting Online than in person and friendship is measured by requests, follows, and likes, it might seem like relationships forming and developing through the Internet is the norm.
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 59% of internet users feel that online dating is a good way to meet people, but that number might go down as the prevalence of catfishing continues to grow. Deceptive internet frauds called catfishers target individuals with a range of goals, from revenge and cyberbullying to building false relationships and even theft or crime.
What is catfishing?
The term catfish was reserved for the barbed freshwater. That is until 2010, when filmmaker Nev Schulman chronicled his experience meeting and falling in love with a woman he met online, "Megan".
In the end, the documentary revealed that the woman behind Megan was in reality a woman named Angela, using a fake name and photos of a Vancouver based model to create the online profile. The documentary was titled "Catfish" based on a story Angela's husband shared.
-Vince Pierce in Nev Schulman's 2010 documentary "Catfish"
This is why it's important to educate yourself and your family about
the dangers of being catfished, and to know how to move forward
if you suspect something is not right with someone you are getting
close to online.
What are some of the signs you might be being catfished?
If something seems off and you are concerned about a new online
friend, or are noticing some inconsistencies with someone you've
been interacting with for a while, there's a chance you are being
Signs on Their Profile
What to do if you think you are being catfished?
There's no definitive, fool-proof way to move forward when you think you are being catfished. Some good first steps would be to:
You can run a "DIY catfish investigation" using some basic methods like searching for other profiles or taking a close look at the person's friends, but often times this information can just add to the confusion and raise more questions. It also takes a lot of time. While it can still show you the person may not have been honest with you, it's not common to get definitive answers through these methods, and when it comes to an online relationship with feelings of doubt, most people want clear-cut answers either way.
So, if you need help finding answers, hiring a social media investigator might be the way to go.
HRP Agency's investigators will be able to run searches across multiple platforms, set up alerts for posts containing certain information and new accounts being created, and be able to look at the geographic and time stamp data of posts and uploads. For supplemental research offline, our investigator will also have access to databases through which they can verify the individual's personal data.
Getting answers is an important part of getting closure and moving forward. A private investigator can conduct an extensive social media investigation to get you answers, and to determine once and for all whether or not the person you're speaking with is who they say they are.
What are some of the risks of being catfished?
Though many of the risks in being catfish circle around emotional harm, there are other very real dangers involved:
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